As industries like ranching, fuel, biofuel and factory farming have progressed, rainforests have born the brunt of the environmental destruction that is an inevitable cost of these industries. In a little over 10 years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) asserts only a tenth of our world’s rainforest will remain, and without rigorous conservation effort, deforestation and devastation won’t stop there.
Rainforests are crucial to our planet’s health. When lush and thriving, the great expanse of greenery absorbs dangerous greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide through their natural carbon cycle, but as rainforests are depleted at an alarming rate, these gases make their way to the atmosphere and blanket the earth, contributing to global warming. Further, rainforests are world centers of biodiversity. They house keystone species which are imperative to the survival of other species in their biome, like orangutans and agoutis whose survival is dependent on that of the forest. Notably, Sumatran Orangutans are already an endangered species. As if that weren’t enough, areas affected by deforestation are more susceptible to erosion without tree roots to hold back soil. Erosion also leaves water supply susceptible to contaminants, further damaging an area’s ecological health.
Human hands have corrupted these essential elements of the rainforest. According to an 2017 article by The Independent, a study reveals tropical rainforests, especially those in Latin America, have begun emitting more carbon than they retain. This is the direct result of industrial practices including logging and slash and burn deforestation. Regarding logging, the WWF maintains that illegal logging practices are the largest threat to the rainforests, meaning restoring forests must begin with regulating and reducing logging practices.
The environment is not the only carnage in the rainforest’s ongoing demise. Indigenous people living in rainforest areas are also affected as areas are cleared or repurposed. Tribal groups may be displaced entirely or at the very least forced to restructure their day to day lives due to depleted resources.
Organizations like the WWF are making efforts to stop illegal logging, influence policy-makers and fund restoration efforts to save the rainforests, but without collective cooperation, these efforts may not be sufficient. People all around the globe must be vigilant in what industries they support and to what degree. Adding your voice to the movement against deforestation may just make a large enough uproar to make a difference.